CONCURRENT RESOLUTION ON THE BUDGET FOR FISCAL YEAR 2006 -- (House of Representatives - March 16, 2005)
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. BRADLEY of New Hampshire. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman's budget allows our country to meet our most important values, a strong defense, a strong economy, while reducing our Nation's deficit.
Let me, if I might, focus on another area of concern that the prior speaker just talked about and that is commitment to our Nation's veterans. We do value our veterans' service. And if you look at this chart that I have here that talks about overall spending in the VA, Mr. Chairman, you will see a strong commitment to honoring the commitment of our Nation's veterans.
The second chart that I have specifically talks to veterans medical care which has increased from 1995 to 2005, over a 10-year period, nearly 85 percent. And in the last 5 years, medical spending has increased by 68 percent. That is a commitment to our Nation's veterans.
Let me talk about some other specific areas of improvement that we have made. We have allowed Guard and Reserve units to enroll in medical benefits. We have increased the GI benefit. We have funded finally for the first time concurrent receipts so that the practice of disallowing veterans who had disabilities as a result of their service from collecting both their retirement pay and disability pay is finally being addressed with a $22 billion commitment over the next 10 years.
We have reduced the wait times at our VA hospitals, and the VA continues to give our Nation's veterans excellent care.
Let me touch on, Mr. Chairman, what we have done under the gentleman's leadership this year in the veterans line items of the budget. The discretionary baseline under the President's submission was $30.8 billion. Under the gentleman's mark and allowing me to work together with him and propose an amendment, we increase that by $877 million, which means in these tough fiscal times that our Nation is experiencing a 2.8 percent increase for veterans health care numbers.
Yes, there is a reconciliation number; but when we started with the President's submission, it was $424 million. The reconciliation, Mr. Chairman, under the gentleman's mark is $155 million. I believe that we can find that reconciliation number without enrollment fees, without drug co-pays because we will have the flexibility to look for waste, fraud, and abuse in the veterans numbers and be able to reduce and meet a goal in that fashion.
Let me repeat: we do not have to establish either drug co-pays or enrollment fees. We can achieve this reconciliation in other ways.
Mr. Chairman, in summary, I congratulate the gentleman again for a fiscally prudent budget that meets our Nation's needs, and I look forward to continuing to work with him to honor the commitment to our Nation's veterans.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT